Los Angeles Decriminalizes Street Vending

By Mike Pomranz |
street vendors

© Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

In the eyes of the law, the rules surrounding selling food on the street and immigration might seem like two topics that should be entirely unrelated. But earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council acknowledged that, thanks to new policies being dictated by the Trump administration, these two legal issues are becoming more intricately intertwined in their community, and in an effort to protect its immigrant population, the city has decided to make its vending laws more lax.

According to the LA Times, on Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize street vending, both for food and goods. While in the past, selling your wares on the street illegally could result in a misdemeanor, moving forward this activity will only result in a citation and fine — $250 for a first offense, going up to $1,000 for repeat offenders. In addition, the city suggested it will begin setting up a regulated permit system in the coming months to deal with this issue.

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Though on its surface, these new regulations deal with commerce, the impetus behind the change is actually immigration policy. Some of these sellers are undocumented immigrants, and being hit with criminal charges could put them at risk of being deported — especially with the Trump administration’s recent order seeking to increase the number of deportations nationwide. The relationship between food and immigration is so intertwined that many restaurants shut down on February 16th in solidarity with the “A Day Without Immigrants” protest.

Clearly, the city of Los Angeles wants to be able to discourage those selling goods illegally, but at the same time, the council decided it doesn’t support the possibility of having residents deported for such a minor offense. “It took something horrible at the national level for [the city council] to see the urgency that we’ve been seeing for a long time,” Mike Dennis, who works with the LA Street Vendor Campaign — a group that’s been advocating for the legalization of street food vending in the city — told the Times.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles will apparently get more legal street food out of the deal — which sounds like a win no matter what your politics are.

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